Inspired: Doula Alisa Blackwood

Upgrade your daily routine with a dash of inspiration! Here’s a quick look at why women do the work they do!

Meet the Woman:Birth Photographer Alisa Blackwood

Alisa Blackwood, 36, mother of two, doula (works privately and as a volunteer doula), birth photographer, journalist, yoga teacher. Lives in Minneapolis. Birth advocate since 2007.

Alisa, what inspired you to become a doula? 

I’m lucky to have a mother who ADORED being pregnant. I grew up hearing about how beautiful she felt while pregnant—and in pictures she positively glowed—so I never thought of pregnancy as a time to feel fat or yucky. (Though I understand, too, that pregnancy isn’t blissful for everyone!) My mother laid the groundwork for my appreciation and admiration of this transformative time in a woman’s life.

I went on to become a journalist, which I still am, and in many ways I’ve discovered that my journalism background hasn’t been entirely opposite of my doula work. My work as a journalist was born from my innate curiosity about people, about what makes them tick. When interviewing sources, I take care to listen and to respect their stories. These things are important to my doula work as well.

What prompted you to embrace your calling?

For years I put aside my interest in becoming a doula, primarily because I didn’t have children of my own, nor were many of my friends having kids yet. I just wasn’t in that phase of life. In 2006, when I was 29, I quit a magazine editor job and spent a few months in South Africa volunteering for an amazing organization called mothers2mothers that works with HIV-positive pregnant women and new mothers. While there, I was invited to film a birth as part of a documentary. This sweet 19-year-old mother allowed me (and my camera) into one of the most incredible days of her life and I was forever changed. I signed up for doula training within a year of returning home, knowing that I had the heart and passion to care for women during pregnancy and birth, even though I was not yet a mother myself.

What is most meaningful to you about serving women as a doula?

I just feel ridiculously lucky to have found a calling I’m so passionate about. Every dedicated birth worker I know has the same sparkle in her eye when she talks birth. Witnessing a woman in the prime of her power, and holding a safe space for her during birth—in all of its beauty, mess, breath, and primitive nature—is unlike any other way of being present with the now.

There’s so much about being a doula that I love: working with a woman to help her work through her fears, to fully realize her own capabilities, to reach deeper than she ever has before, and to find both strength and surrender in her heart, softness in her body, and calm in her breath. I don’t sugar coat the work of birth—it is the most all-consuming work a woman will ever physically, mentally, or spiritually do. Birth doesn’t always go “as planned.” But I feel strongly that if a woman is fully supported, listened to, nurtured, and has prepared to ask good questions and reacquaint herself with her intuition, then she’s capable of coming out the other side a MOTHER, a woman who has fully realized her power, even if her journey is wildly different than she imagined.

 

{{Inspired? Let me know, and we’ll connect about a possible blog post!}}

 

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